Sergey Khachatryan

Biography

Born in Yerevan, Armenia, Sergey Khachatryan won First Prize at the VIII International Jean Sibelius competition in Helsinki in 2000, becoming the youngest ever winner in the history of the competition.  In 2005 he claimed First Prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.

In recent seasons, Sergey has performed with the Bamberger Symphoniker (Herbert Blomstedt and Jonathan Nott), Munich Philharmonic (James Gaffigan), Swedish Radio Symphony (Valcuha), Mariinsky Orchestra (Valery Gergiev) and Orchestre de Paris (Andris Nelsons).  He has also collaborated with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, NHK Symphony, Sydney Symphony and Melbourne Symphony.

Sergey’s most recent appearances in the US were with the Seattle Symphony (Ludovic Morlot) and National Symphony Orchestra (Washington) (Vasily Petrenko).  He has also visited the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony as well as the Ravinia, Blossom and Mostly Mozart Festivals.

Sergey enjoys a particularly close relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra.  Conductors with whom he has worked both in London and on tour include Sir Charles Mackerras, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Esa Pekka Salonen, Tugan Sokhiev and Juraj Valcuha.  He returns in 2013/14 for the Berg Concerto with David Afkham.  Other highlights in the season include projects with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony and Orchestre de Paris.

With his sister Lusine Khachatryan Sergey has given recitals at Wigmore Hall, Konzerthaus Dortmund, Theatre des Champs Elysees and Cite de la Musique (Paris), Auditori Nacional Madrid, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Palais des Beaux Arts (Brussels), Philharmonie Luxembourg, Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall (New York) and Herbst Theater (San Francisco).  The duo embarks on a major recital tour in spring 2014 performing Brahms’ three Sonatas for Violin and Piano.

Sergey’s discography on Naïve Classique includes the Sibelius and Khachaturian concerti with Sinfonia Varsovia and Emmanuel Krivine, both Shostakovich concerti with the Orchestre National de France and  Kurt Masur, a recording of the Shostakovich and Franck sonatas for violin and piano and the complete Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  A disc of the Brahms sonatas for violin and piano was released in June 2013.

Sergey plays the 1740 ‘Ysaÿe’ Guarneri violin on kind loan from the Nippon Music Foundation.

He is the recipient of the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award 2014.


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Schedule

De Oosterpoort, Groningen

Beethoven: Piano Trio in D op.70 no.1 'Ghost'
Rachmaninov: Trio élégiaque no.1 in G minor
Babadjanian: Trio in F sharp minor

Sergey Khachatryan, violin
Narek Hakhnazaryan, cello
Lusine Khachatryan, piano

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Press

Shostakovich Violin Concerto no.1

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra / Mikhail Tatarnikov, Brucknerhaus Linz, 20 November 2013

Sergey Khachatryan überzeugte als Solist des viersätzigen 1. Violinkonzertes von Dmitri Schostakowitsch durch seinen technisch makellosen und stilsicheren Vortrag.  Nach dem klagenden Nachtgesang bildet das groteske Scherzo einen wirkungsvollen Kontrast.  Die mit einer gewaltigen Solokadenz abschliessende Passacaglia mündet in das tänzerische Finale, das hinreißend musiziert wurde.
Fridolin Dallinger, Neues Volksblatt, 22 November 2013
Dazu das Violinkonzert Nr.1 in a-moll von Schostakowitsch in seiner teils meditativen Verinnerlichung und teils explosiv fulminanter Bravour.  Diese nutzte der aus Armenien stammende Geigensolist Sergey Khachatryan, der die Zuhörerschaft namentlich mit seiner Kadenz und dem herrlich sportlich rasenden Finalsatz schlichtweg zum Rasen brachte.  Bravo, bravo, bravo, bravo!
Balduin Sulzer, Kronen Zeitung, 22 November 2013
Tosender Beifall für Geiger Sergey Khachatryan
***** Star des Abends war der Geiger Sergey Khachatryan aus Armenien, der mit staunenswerter Musikalität, technischer sowie gestalterischer Virtuosität das Schostakowitsch-Violinkonzert zum Erlebnis machte.  Die Geige schwebt dabei auch im feinsten Piano über dem Orchester, mühelos, fließend und mit bewundernswerter Selbstverständlichkeit.
Ein besonderes Gustostück war die höchst virtuos gespielte, überaus faszinierende Kadenz.  Beim ‘Nocturno’ glaubte man sich in einen stimmungsvollen Wald versetzt.  Das übermütige ‘Scherzo’ zeigte ein rauschendes Fest.  Die ‘Passacaglia’ stand auf festem Boden.  Die ‘Burlesque’ als vielschichtiger Höhepunkt des Werkes bildete den temperamentvollen Abschluss.  Für den tobenden Beifall auch aus dem Orchester bedankte sich der Geiger mit einem fein ziselierten, ein wenig melancholisch getönten armenischen Volkslied.
Franz Zamazal, OÖ Nachrichten, 22 November 2013

Brahms: Sonatas for Violin and Piano

Naïve Classique, 2013

These three sonatas, composed between 1878 and 1888, make a wonderful Romantic-classic triptych, pure essence of Brahms, and, though endlessly recorded, could hardly ask for more persuasive advocates than this young Armenian brother-and-sister duo. From the leisurely but rapt opening of No 1, in G—the vivace ma non troppo tempo decidedly “non troppo”, and the rippling interplay of the contrary-motion quavers all the more precisely savourable—it is clear the composer’s idiom is in wise hands. [...] It is a joy from beginning to end here. Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, 23 June 2013
Over gentle, hypnotic piano chords, the violin breathes a singing line of dreamlike beauty: the opening of Brahms's first violin sonata is one of the great moments in music, masterfully recreated here by a brother-and-sister team.  Pianist Lusine is at her best in the sprightly, dancing scherzo of the third sonata; violinist Sergey excels in the peaceful meditative central movement of the second sonata.  Elsewhere there is slightly too much edgy violin vibrato for my taste, but they come together to create a fresh, incisive account that lifts these three sonatas into a new realm of intense feeling. Nicholas Kenyon, The Observer, 30 June 2013
Denn die Khachatryans wissen nicht nur um die entscheidenden Unterschiede zwischen Gefühl und Pathos, zwischen Sentiment und Sentimentalität. Während Sergey Khachatryan mit einem ungemein schlanken, vibratoarmen Ton es schafft, selbst das heftigste Espressivo immer noch sinnlich atmen zu lassen, erweist sich Lusine Khachatryans Spiel als körperreich auch in der dynamischen Variabilität. So kann man mit Herz und eben auch Verstand mitverfolgen, wie diese hochqualifizierte Partnerschaft einerseits die Brahms´schen Seelenschluchten auskundschaftet. Zugleich schafft man es, jenen Komponisten ins Licht zu rücken, der auf engstem kammermusikalischem Raum die Kunst beherrschte, das streng Konstruierte und den freien Ausdruckswillen zu einem großen Ganzen zu formen. Aber ziemlich gegen Ende der Einspielung werden auch solche Errungenschaften zweitrangig. Denn das „Adagio“ der d-Moll-Sonate lassen Sergey & Lusine Khachatryan einfach mit einer Innigkeit dahin strömen, dass man sich kaum zu bewegen wagt.
Guido Fischer, Rondo, 29 June 2013

Shostakovich Violin Concerto no.1

Seattle Symphony Orchestra / Ludovic Morlot, June 2013

…there was no sense of the mainstream or of “playing it safe” in his deeply sensitive, impassioned performance of the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No.1 with the orchestra and conductor Ludovic Morlot.  The opening Nocturne was a profound reverie; the Scherzo movement rose to a triumphant, whirling finale, and the somber Passacaglia was profoundly affecting. The fierce difficulty and staggering virtuosity of the final movement brought the audience to its feet, hoping (in vain this time) for an encore.

Melina Bargreen, The Seattle Times, 21 June 2013

Brahms Violin Concerto

Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse / Tugan Sokhiev, January 2013

On savait que Sergey Khachatryan était l'un des jeunes violinistes avec lesquels il faut aujourd'hui compter.  Soliste du dernier concert de l'Orchestre du Capitole à la Halle aux Grains (dirigé par Tugan Sokhiev), le virtuose d'origine arménienne révèle ce soir-là une vraie maturité artistique dans le Concerto pour violon de Brahms. Aussi sensible que techniquement superlatif, son archet très sûr phrase la partition avec une élégance souveraine, fait entendre un son à la fois limpide et plein, caresse les cordes lors d'un Adagio superbe, en état d'apesanteur.  2200 personnes lui réserveront un triomphe.  Le violoniste offrira deux bis. Anne-Marie Chouchan, La Dépêche du Midi, 30 January 2013

Duo recital with Lusine Khachatryan

Alice Tully Hall (New York), 23 May 2012

A Violin and Its Master Have Their Moment

In New York, where audiences are treated to regular performances by star musicians, there is excellent music-making in abundance.  Yet for all the virtuoso playing—however enjoyable it may be—it is still rare to hear an artist communicate with the level of searing intensity that Sergey Khachatryan achieved in his sublime interpretation of Bach’s Partita for Solo Violin No. 2 at Alice Tully Hall on Wednesday evening.

[…] This was certainly a deeply spiritual performance, personal and soaringly expressive.  As soon as Mr. Khachatryan began the opening Allemande, you could sense how intently the audience began listening, as he achieved the all-too-uncommon feat of seducing a rustling, coughing crowd into silence.

[…] There were moments of plaintive beauty when Mr. Khachatryan played the monumental Chaconne, and equally heart-wrenching moments during the Sarabande.  His sweet-toned approach is not the Baroque purist’s aesthetic, but not a note or phrase seemed ill advised.

The performance after intermission proved equally intense.  Mr. Khachatryan was joined by his sister Lusine Khachatryan, a gifted pianist, for an exciting rendition of Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata, whose tumultuous dialogue and seething drama inspired Tolstoy’s novella of the same name.  Such a sense of danger pervaded this fiery interpretation that you could easily imagine the jealous husband of Tolstoy’s story reacting in fury after hearing his wife performing this passionate music with another man.
The drama continued with the encore, the soulful, turbulent Introduction and Perptuum Mobile for violin and piano (1957) by the Armenian composer Edvard Mirzoyan.

Vivien Schweitzer, New York Times, 24 May 2012

Duo recital with Lusine Khachatryan

Herbst Theater (San Francisco), 13 May 2012

Sergey and Lusine Khachatryan, who gave a piano and violin recital Sunday at Herbst Theater, are an amiable pair on stage.  The Armenian siblings play with conviction and in finer moments, elevate the spirit of their audience.  They offered familiar works of Bach and Beethoven, and distinguished themselves on the strength of a pronounced singing line, rhythmic chemistry and Sergey’s uncommon abilities.

[…] The young artist sang nobly on his 1740 “Ysaye” Guarneri ‘del Gesu’, beginning with Johann Sebastian’s Second Partita, a celebrated and otherwise revealing Baroque standard.

Khachatryan’s sound is immediately notable for its warmth and rather flexible texture.  Technically, the violinist can play anything that one expects from a competition champion; his command of the instrument is the subject of audience fascination.  The technical challenges in the Giga showed him in fine form, hitting pitches squarely with subtle inflection.  His legato in the Sarabanda stretches like silk, the product of a smooth and flexible bow arm.  Of course, it was his ability to express emotion between the notes, as found in the Chaconne, which capped an exceptional performance.  The soloist sustained the movement beautifully, laced it with tension, and unraveled it gracefully.  The end was met with a powerful silence from the afternoon crowd. 

[...] Accompanying her brother in Beethoven’s Kreutzer sonata, Lusine followed in rhythm, dynamics and tempo through the turbulent Presto.  The balance and energy of the performance hovered throughout the Andante con variazioni.  The piano opened beautifully, producing voiced chords with noticeable rubato.  Sergey’s lyrical gift alone is worth the price of admission, notable for its tenderness and malleability on a whim.  Rhythms in the second variation revealed fine chemistry, while darker tones and shades of the third were offered with marked beauty.  Lusine appears to have found her velvety stride here—delicacy emerged, runs were gracefully finished, and trills marvelously spun.

Elijah Ho, San Francisco Examiner, 15 May 2012

Sibelius Violin Concerto

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra / Ludovic Morlot, June 2011

**** Every so often, you hear a performance that leaves you thinking: yes, that's how it should sound.  So it is with the current Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Master series where Sergey Khachatryan is soloist in the Sibelius Violin Concerto.  This young musician won the Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in his mid-teens and you can see why: a superb technical armoury, urgent attack and an engrossing commitment that makes the Finnish composer's solitary concerto a gripping narrative from its exposed opening solo to the vaulting final bars.

Khachatryan suggests other great interpreters—Nivett's focus, Francescatti's urgency, the rapid-fire address of Spivakovsky—but he is his own man, giving the first movement cadenza a fierce drive that exercises his Guarnerius to the limit, then powering out octave chains in the finale with flawless pitching.  Under guest conductor Ludovic Morlot, the MSO supplied responsive support, ranging from an opening transparent string fluttering to an admirably controlled ferment in the concerto's last stanzas.  Best of all, soloist and orchestra dovetailed precisely and the interpretation had an exceptional integrity of purpose.

The Saturday Age, 2 July 2011

Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin

Naïve Classique, 2010

THE STRAD RECOMMENDS: This is wonderfully expressive playing of a kind that I was beginning to fear had gone forever. […] The three sonatas begin in deeply probing fashion—the C major Adagio starts almost like a breath.  The fugues are amazingly thoughtful, especially the A minor and C major; the G minor asserts the sterner side of Bach’s counterpoint more.  In each case the second slow movement is very lovely, but in keeping with the way the whole sonata starts, that of the C major is quite hesitant.  The finales are dazzling. […] The performances of the Partitas realise all the multi-faceted drama of the dance.  The Chaconne is a spiritual journey, as I believe it should be. The Strad, January 2011
This young violinist avoids the lean, fleet-fingered approach to Baroque music now in vogue, favoring an unabashedly Romantic and passionate take on Bach’s three sonatas and three partitas for solo violin. Mr. Khachatryan plays with rich and beautiful tone; his interpretations are vividly rendered, detailed and potently expressive. New York Times, 25 November 2010
For all his youth, Khachatryan certainly has deep experience. […] His sound is both sturdy and beautiful, and he paces and phrases everything with intelligent eloquence, always allowing the music to breathe and voicing counterpoints lucidly.  Most impressive, though, is the emotional and spiritual depth he shows. The Sunday Times, 7 November 2010

Recordings